Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Legitimate Theater: Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002)

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Welcome to Legitimate Theater: a column dedicated to movie-based stage musicals. The goal of this series is to explore those stories that originated in films and eventually worked their way onto Broadway and beyond. By the end of each entry, there will hopefully be a better understanding of this odd but rampant trend in modern entertainment. Are these stories really worth telling through song and dance? How can it even compare to the technical prowess of a camera and seamless editing? Join me on this quest as I explore the highs and lows of this trend on the third Wednesday of every month and hopefully answer what makes this Legitimate Theater.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: "Beautiful Boy" Opens a Conversation About Drug Addiction in Powerfully Real Ways

Scene from Beautiful Boy
The subject of addiction is something that has greatly impacted America over the years, which makes it strange how little cinema has decided to address it. For those who know someone, or are themselves, there is a certain pain the experience of watching something pure become diluted, floating away from the innocence that you once assumed them to have. At its core, director Felix van Groeningen's Beautiful Boy not only captures a story that has a horrifying reality to a teenager stumbling in and out of sobriety, but it also has the impact he leaves on his family, especially a father who cares too much. There's a desperation to both performances that ratchets up the emotion in a way that creates one of the most eye-opening, emotional dramas of 2018 and allows for an entry point for people not only to understand addiction, but to even empathize with their struggles. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Academy Awards to Go Forward With No Host for the First Time Since 1989

In the almost year since last year's Academy Awards ceremony, the Oscars has gone from being an institution recognizing a promising and new direction with its first sci-fi Best Picture winner (The Shape of Water) to a familiar chaos not seen since the infamous Oscars So White controversy. In that time, they have attempted to evolve in a way that's more appealing to audiences, if just to draw in a bigger audience. After a lot of trying and countless setbacks, the Oscars are going to do something rare. They're going to go without a host for only the second time in their 91 years and the first in 30 years. Speaking as there's less than 50 days to go, it does seem likely that this is how things will play out, and it's only a reflection of how big of a mess things are right now.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review: "Mary Poppins Returns" is a Dazzling Good Time

Scene from Mary Poppins Returns
There is something daunting and rare about director Rob Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns. It's a sequel to Oscar-winning beloved family film that has become one of Disney's towering achievements (they even made a movie called Saving Mr. Banks to remind us of this). So, where could Marshall possibly go with 50 years of distance and generations hooked on some of movie musicals' most memorable music? The answer is simple. It goes for the whimsy, trying its best to capture the enthusiasm of the original while attempting to make a new story that compliments advanced technology to bring the landscape to life in ways not available in the mid-60's. While the music isn't quite on par or the performances as immediately iconic, Marshall has continued to prove himself one of the premiere musical directors of the 21st century with a quaint new holiday treat that may not match the original, but serves to entertain for a few hours as best it can.